England, Ukraine, Germany

England: no to woman priesthood Women priestly ordination, as Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict said “is much more than a time-bound cultural norm that needs updating. It’s something deeper that touches on the very meaning of priesthood”. English theologian Stephen Wang thus wrote in a reflection re-launched by the Social Communications Office of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales with reference to an advertising campaign promoted by the “Catholic Women’s Ordination”, simultaneously with the apostolic visit. The posters with the slogan “Pope Benedict Ordain Women Now!” will run on London buses. “The Catholic insistence that only men can be ordained as priests”, writes Fr. Wang, “is incomprehensible to many people, and the cause of much personal anger and ecumenical heartache. Pope John Paul II seemed to close the door to any revision when he wrote in 1994 that this teaching ‘is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful'”. The question is that the Pope “doesn’t have the authority to change something that has been such a fundamental part of Christian identity from the very beginning”, claims the theologian. “The argument is not about holding onto the past for its own sake, but trying to be faithful to what Jesus wanted for his Church”. He continues: “This teaching is not at all a judgment on women’s abilities or dignity or rights. It says something about the specific role of the priest in Catholic understanding. The Church is saying something quite radical. On the one hand, there is a fundamental equality between all human beings, between men and women. On the other hand, this does not mean that our sexual identity as men and women is interchangeable”. Ukraine: the synod of the Greek-Catholic Church Evangelization and migration are the main themes of the synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church scheduled in Lviv next September 2-9. “It’s a very important event in the life of the Church – wrote cardinal Lubomyr Husar, archbishop major of Kyiv-Halyc, in the message sent for the occasion to the faithful – since the synod brings together all of our bishops of Ukraine and of the diaspora to reflect together on the needs of the church and take the appropriate decisions”. As relates to the theme of evangelization, “we will discuss how we can help people meet Jesus Christ through our actions and our fraternal words”, His Eminence said. In broaching the question of migration, special attention will be devoted “to our migrants, especially those living in Countries with no Greek-Catholic bodies, and to the ways that can help them remain faithful to their Church and her traditions”. Cardinal Husar invited the faithful to pray for the positive outcome of the synod. Priests read his message in the liturgies. The head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church thus explains the importance of prayer: “The synod isn’t a parliament with majority-taken decisions. A synod is the quest for the truth of God on the part of those to whom Church guidance is entrusted”. For Ukraine’s Independence celebrations, held August 24, Cardinal Husar sent a message that was read during the liturgy celebrated in the Annunciation church. “We need not only look at secular principles of behavior but at the concepts of the holy faith”. This means every member of the community, regardless of his status, should fulfill his “holy duty to care for the good of his neighbor”. Germany: the Passion of OberammergauThe performance has been ongoing for over 400 years: it’s the Passion Play of Oberammergau, a hamlet in Bavaria where every ten years is fulfilled a promise made during the Thirty Years’ War. In 1633, the local population, drained by the conflict and plague, took the vow of staging Christ’s death and resurrection. The promise was kept for the first time on the occasion of the Pentecost of 1633. By the mid-17th century, the event was renown across the entire German area, attracting large numbers of visitors. This year recurs the 41st Passion Play: over 2000 artists will interpret the 5-hour open-air performance held on scheduled dates from May 15 to October 3rd, and which combines prose, music and chants. More than half of Oberammergau’s inhabitants will participate in the account of the story of Jesus of Nazareth from the arrival in Jerusalem to His Resurrection. This year, the Oberammergau Passion play will be performed 102 days. It is a unique event from the tourist, cultural and religious angle, which gained international recognition. (www.passionsspiele2010.de)

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